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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tucker

What can I expect when I meet with a dietitian?

This is one of the most common questions I get asked by clients when they book with me! Many individuals have never seen a nutritionist before so going into the appointment can feel very daunting.


Some know that the dietitian will assess their nutrition, provide suggestions to help with challenges, undertake nutrition education and provide follow up, but what does that actually look like? Keep reading to learn and to see an example.




Reviewing your information


The dietitian will go over your medical conditions, vitamins and medications that you take, discuss how you grocery shop and cook currently as well as what your "usual" day of eating looks like. This helps the dietitian assess what potential suggestions could be. For example, if you're struggling with constipation and the dietitian notices you aren't hydrating throughout the day, though you do eat a lot of fibre rich foods, she might ask about your hydration habits and what barriers you might have around drinking.



Education


The dietitian could ask permission to provide nutrition education on a topic that could help you achieve your goals. In the example above, if you reached out to the dietitian feeling like you are not going to the bathroom frequently enough, and the dietitian has identified that a lack of hydration is likely contributing, the dietitian might provide education on how much fluid you should aim for in a day, which fluids count towards hydration goals as well as some factors that could affect your hydration.



Collaborative goal setting


After learning about you and your nutrition habits, the dietitian will collaborate to come up with strategies that could propel you towards your goal. For example, to work on constipation by increasing your hydration, you identify that you dislike room temperature drinks and that you get so engrossed in work, it is difficult to step away to get a beverage. The dietitian will brainstorm strategies to have cold or hot fluids instead of room temperature and to have hydration accessible. Perhaps you would drink more if you filled 3 glasses with ice water or a large insulated water bottle at a time and brought them to your desk while working. Or, maybe getting a kettle for your office to make tea in a large insulated mug throughout the day is the ticket. As the client, you know yourself best and you know what will and will not work for your life. Additionally, maybe you know that you don't have the capacity to undertake some changes. It's important to be direct about this so the strategies you collaborate on are realistic for your life and can lead towards change!



Implementing changes and follow up


Most clients will want to see the dietitian in follow up to review how changes are going, celebrate wins, strategize how to get around roadblocks and to have a sense of accountability. The timeline for follow-up can vary based on client preference and how gradually changes are being made. Some clients prefer biweekly follow up and some monthly. Continued feedback, support, education, collaboration and goal setting can help you achieve your nutrition goals and carry these strategies through life.



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